I first visited Colombia in the mid 2000’s and stayed in Cartagena. Back then Colombia was still experiencing the final dangerous waves of violence fueled by drugs, the underground FARC movement and the rise of local militia’s intent on protecting their turf. Cartagena is a fortified city on the sea and and the old city is surrounded by walls and water. The Colombian Government gave the city extra security to encourage and protect the tourism industry. You may remember the Summit of the America’s in 2012 when Obama visited and some members of the Secret Service were caught partying a little too much. So I was in Cartagena for a tourism conference and it was there that I first heard of ‘El Ciudad Perdida.’
The Lost City lies in the Sierra Nevada Range, a geographically isolated range that reaches 5700 M and is one of the world’s highest coastal ranges. It has steep jungles and rushing rivers and is sparsely populated. In 1972 a stone ‘city’ on top of a ridge was ‘discovered’ by looters and then excavated by a team of archaeologists. The local Indians, descendants of the Tayrona, claimed to have known about it all long but wisely kept quiet about it.
Between 1976 and 1982 it was studied and excavated and many of the trees and growth covering the stone steps and buildings were removed. However it was not to be a popular site as by the late 1980’s and all through the 1990’s the entire region was considered too dangerous to visit. As late as 2003 a group if tourist were kidnapped on their way by foot to the lost city.